Northern Ireland to export more beef?

3 August 2000

Northern Ireland to export more beef?

by Philip Clarke

NORTHERN Ireland has issued a new consultation document in a bid to secure separate BSE status for the province and export beef more freely.

The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) proposes tough new conditions on the beef trade between Britain and Northern Ireland.

It aims to reassure Brussels that Britain will not use Northern Ireland as a back-door for exports if the province is given more freedom to sell beef abroad.

“Carcass meat will have to be dispatched from GB under veterinary certification, in sealed containers”. Live cattle and embryo sales would be banned.

Northern Ireland agriculture minister Brid Rogers said the consultation was a “major step forward in the process of getting our beef back into Europe”.

It is forecast that Northern Irelands farmers could benefit to the tune of 40m, based on forecast exports of about 300 tonnes of beef a week.

Ulster Farmers Union livestock adviser, Ian Stephenson, said the scheme was the only way forward for the province and would attract widespread support.

Northern Ireland has a low incidence of BSE. Last year it had just 6 cases of the disease compared to 2113 in Great Britain and 91 in the Republic of Ireland.

The consultation ends on Oct 6, though Northern Irelands agriculture department believes it will take until next year for Brussels to give its approval.

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